High Hopes Secretary Haaland Will Halt Surgical Sterilization Scheme

Last October, the Bureau of Land Management finalized plans to employ an inhumane surgical sterilization procedure—ovariectomy via colpotomy—to control the population of wild horses in Utah’s Confusion Herd Management Area (HMA). (See AWI Quarterly, winter 2019.) AWI successfully sued the BLM in 2018 to stop the agency from using this risky, outdated procedure on a herd in Oregon. But the BLM continued to pursue the method and began rounding up horses from the Confusion HMA for that purpose. Five horses died as a result of the roundup.

photo by Taylored Photos
photo by Taylored Photos

AWI rallied federal lawmakers to oppose the BLM’s reckless plan, and, on November 19, a bipartisan coalition of 58 lawmakers wrote to Interior Secretary David Bernhardt urging him to end it. We are pleased to report that the end-of-year spending package included language directing the BLM to employ safe, proven, and humane fertility control methods—standards ovariectomies would fail to meet.

Hopefully, the new secretary of the interior, Deb Haaland, will quash the plan, which she vocally criticized during her time in the House of Representatives. Haaland has been a strong champion of employing immunocontraceptive vaccines such as PZP to manage herds. AWI led a sign-on letter of 49 wild horse advocacy organizations and horse rescues asking her to halt the sterilizations. 

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